Listening

(Congratulations to commenter Monica Brand, who won an autographed copy of the book Refuse to Do Nothing.) Formation Fridays are for you, dear one: explore old and new ways to be beautifully formed into the image of Jesus. Because He calls you Beloved, the One that He loves, the One that he delights in.

"There is much I can do for you, Lord!" I say, tapping my foot, to-do list in hand, type-A personality in tow.

The response: absolute silence, deafening.

"Remember the high D & high S I scored on the DISC profile, Father?? I'm thinking a leadership position filled with about 50% people interaction would be perfect for ME, don't you agree?"

*Crickets.* The heavens are silent. Circumstances close in. Future uncertain. 

Perhaps I should try listening. That "be still and know that I am..." stuff. Why does it take a life so-outside-of-my-control to bring me to a place of sitting at his feet? 

"Few things are needed—or indeed only one," Jesus said. "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:42 NIV)

The Savior of the world inverted the social order to praise Mary of Bethany for in essence, being a female disciple—and I cannot come to him, sit at his feet, and listen? I cannot take him up on his lavish invitation? I cannot hear his voice because my own is so loud and insistent?

Where is the duct tape when I need it?

***

A few months ago at a spiritual retreat, one of the directors shared her journey into the spiritual disciplines. She talked of her meeting with a spiritual director, and how this person encouraged her that she had done everything "right" in working for God, but that she now needed to celebrate with God, to enjoy him. When praying, to literally sit in God's presence and bask in his love.

Her response: "Does that count?" Does that count for what? she said at the retreat session. Or to put it a different way: who is counting anyway? You? God?

The retreat director, Pastor and author Sharon Garlough Brown gave us a suggestion on how we might listen to our heavenly Father.

She suggested we sit quietly with God and ask this question: "Lord, what do you think of when you think of me?"

I dare you to try it. Be quiet for as long as it takes to actually hear something. (Most likely not an audible voice, of course, but a quiet nudge.)

If the voice is condemning and harsh and critical, you are not hearing from Jesus. He is redemptive, loving, kind, and insistent on you knowing you are His Beloved. But if the voice speaks with challenging truth and love and quiets you and reminds you of your value in the eyes of Almighty God, you might be hearing from the God of the universe.

I am still working on doing this regularly, because when I do, inevitably I begin to believe that He loves me unreservedly, and pursues me passionately, and cares for me tenderly. Life recenters, horrible disappointment coming into focus, into balance with all the good gifts I have received.

But the hardest part of this whole darn thing is just learning to be quiet. Once I am quiet, I want to listen. Abba, I say in a small, childlike voice, I want to know: What do you think of when you think of me?

Your turn: What keeps you from listening to God's voice? What fruit emerges when you hear from him?